The most meaningful 45 minutes of Lebogang Rasethaba’s career

Posted: March 15, 2016

Ofentse after his surgery

Arcade Content director Lebogang Rasethaba recently directed two short documentaries for Operation Smile as part of Y&R South Africa’s gutsy live cross-platform idea #Operation45.

In South Africa, one in every 700 children will be born with a cleft lip or palate. #Operation45 piggybacked on South Africa’s biggest soccer event, the Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, to demonstrate that it only takes 45 minutes to perform a cleft lip correction surgery – the same amount of time as half a soccer game.

Nine-month-old Alexzander Coetzee and 11-month-old Ofentse Sithole were both born with cleft lips. During the Soweto Derby, the two boys were introduced in pre-game commercials on Supersport before receiving life-changing corrective surgeries live during each half of the game.

Soccer fans were able to follow their progress as presenter Sibongile Mafu interviewed Dr Anil Madaree before and after each surgery. The audience was also invited to follow the live updates on the Operation Smile South Africa Twitter page and via the #Operation45 hashtag.

Lebo’s first #Operation45 documentary introduced Alex and Ofentse, while the second followed their life-changing surgeries on match day. These documentaries were featured on targeted key media like EyeWitness News, Huisgenoot, Parent24 and Soccer Laduma.

Lebo is currently filming a third documentary, which will follow their recovery and the impact of those 45 minutes on their lives.

“Working with Lebo and his team was a profound experience for me,” says Nkanyezi Masango, creative director at Y&R South Africa’s Cape Town office. “His unique ability to create a relaxed atmosphere on set and to engage with children allowed us to delve deep into the lives of these families and to capture their emotions with sensitivity and authenticity. He made the process of the filming as beautiful as the final product.”

“Shooting those surgeries was probably the most intense, productive and enlightening 45 minutes of my life,” says Lebo. “#Operation45 was a really big, complex idea with a lot of moving parts, but more importantly it was about changing lives – the young kids, their parents, and the broader population. It was a privilege to be part of this.”

Follow #Operation45 and @OpSmileSA to watch the progress of these two brave boys or join the team at and volunteer, donate or register a child.

See more of Lebo’s brand films and music videos here.